In 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, leaving devastation in its wake. Eighty percent of the town was flooded, 1,200 people died, and 90,000 jobs were lost along with $3 billion in wages. Undaunted by the scale of tragic loss, the people of New Orleans rebuilt their city, which will celebrate its 300th anniversary in just three years. Today, the city known for its history, music, arts, culinary treats, and architecture, is back on its feet and surging ahead stronger than ever.
Founded in 1718, New Orleans is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States. The definition of a melting pot, the city is imbued with a mixture of influences and cultures – French, Creole, African, Caribbean, Irish – all of which create an amazing atmosphere that qualifies it as one of the most fascinating, and oldest, cities in the country.
Make sure you bring your favorite walking shoes when visiting The Big Easy, for the pace of the environment lends itself to being experienced primarily on foot. The French Quarter is bustling with the most activity. From the debauchery of Bourbon Street and its lineup of live music bars and restaurants that don’t stop serving until the sun comes up, to the transitional elegance of Royal Street just one block over, there is a flavorful cocktail of contradictions sharing space in a cozy patch of real estate. At the center of it all is the Quarter’s renowned landmark, Jackson Square. Originally known as the Place d’Armes, the area was renamed to honor Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson Square is surrounded by historic structures such as the St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere, and the Cabildo (which house the Louisiana State Museums). It is a great place to sit for a portrait, as the Square is teeming with artists of all types. Just across the street is the historic Café Du Monde, where you must stop for an out-of-this-world beignet.
Not only is New Orleans considered the birthplace of jazz music as well as a hub for gospel, it is also well represented in the R&B, rock, and pop genres. Music is in the air, no matter where you wander. The street musicians have Grammy-caliber talent, whether leading a drum circle, playing a trumpet solo, or thumbing a two-string, stand-up bass in a jug band. The music hits its high note on Frenchmen Street, located just a few blocks outside of The French Quarter.
For more than 40 years, the city has been home to The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest), an annual celebration of the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. This year’s festival runs April 24–May 3 and features a wide-ranging lineup of more than 100 mainstream artists—including Elton John, Keith Urban, John Legend, and Lenny Kravitz—as well as traditional New Orleans staples such as Aaron Neville, Dr. John, and Allen Toussaint. The two weekends combined are visited by close to half a million music lovers and bring in $300 million to the local economy.
Let the Good Times Roll
Mardi Gras is over, and Fat Tuesday has passed, so we now tighten our collective belt and get down to some golf. New Orleans is home to 16 public and private golf courses, with many options for challenging rounds on picturesque links. Two courses that stand out from the rest and welcome non-member guests are TPC Louisiana and English Turn Golf & Country Club.
A 15-minute drive from downtown will lead you to arguably the top course in the state, TPC Louisiana located in Avondale. TPC has been the proud host of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic since 1995 with the exception of the year following Hurricane Katrina. With past winners such as Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper, Davis Love III, David Toms, and Vijay Singh, this tournament is as rich in history as the city in which it is held.
The 18-hole, par 72 course ranges in yards from 5,121 all the way up to 7,400 to accommodate all levels of play. Just a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River, amongst the swamps and bayous of southern Louisiana, TPC is a classic Pete Dye–designed course which, roughly translated, means a bevy of bunkers, over 100 in all. Along with the bunker-infested holes, the course offers undulating fairways, fast and tricky greens, and five large ponds that weave through the course and come into play on many holes. If you happen to hit your ball into a water hazard and think you may be able to find it, I suggest not looking too hard, as the waters are home to many alligators. The course presents a great variety of short holes to balance the lengthy ones, but do not be tempted into playing aggressive shots on the short holes, as you’ll be saddled with penalties.
The 585-yard, par 5 18th is the challenging “black diamond” signature closing hole. Water is in play the entire right side, and bunkers cover much of the left side, squeezing into play near possible landing areas. If you can chalk up a par on the final hole, pat yourself on the back. With a gorgeous clubhouse, exceptional practice facility as well as second to none service from the friendly staff, TPC Louisiana will exceed your every expectation. tpc.com/louisiana
English Turn Golf & Country Club is located about 20 miles outside of downtown New Orleans and was the former host of the Zurich Classic for 15 years prior to TPC taking over the event. The championship 18-hole golf course at English Turn has been personally designed and supervised by legendary golfer and golf course designer Jack Nicklaus. The par 72 course stretches out to 7,078 yards from the furthest set of tees. Although in terms of today’s courses English Turn is not considered extremely lengthy, water comes into play on 18 holes—yes, every single hole. Each hole has an individual personality of its own, including numerous bunkers, large waste bunkers, and plentiful grass mounds that line the sculpted fairways. Between the countless amount of sand traps and water hazards, accuracy is an absolute must. The signature 15th hole, which is a 540-yard par 5, offers quite a challenge for every level of golfer, featuring a complete island green on the approach. English Turn Golf & Country Club was named the 4th Best in State course in 1998 and 1999 by Golf Digest. When visiting Louisiana, English Turn is a must play. englishturngolf.com
Before you tee off, of course, you must secure suitable accommodations. The Roosevelt Hotel, located just on the outer edge of the French Quarter, gives you a perfect lie and is a notch above the competition. This luxury hotel is within walking distance to the city’s most vibrant attractions and entertainment, including Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, and the Arts & Warehouse District. The Roosevelt offers guests expansive rooms and suites, destination dining experiences, and a comfortable atmosphere with just the right amount of Southern hospitality.
With five different options for dining and drinks on site, your discerning tastes will be accommodated as well. If you want a quick cup of latte and a pastry, Teddy’s Cafe is your location. Head upstairs to the Rooftop Bar located next to the pool and grab a hand-crafted cocktail while enjoying the scenic views of the city. If you feel like dining with some live entertainment with a casual atmosphere, Fountain Lounge offers excellent small plates and drinks. Dominica prepares its Italian cuisine using only the freshest ingredients to create unique dishes. therooseveltneworleans.com
Ultimately, after you’ve had your fill of golf, New Orleans is a city for foodies – its fine dining, pubs, street vendors, and historic cafes cover the entire city, from the lively French Quarter to the picture-perfect uptown Garden District. Some of the most common Creole and Cajun dishes that are original to the city are gumbo, jambalaya, grits, po’ boy sandwiches, and, of course, turtle soup. Although you could basically throw a dart at a map of restaurants in the area, and end up with a fabulous meal, the historic Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street is the site of a prominent bull’s eye. Restaurant R’evolution offers a fine dining experience with a light and upbeat atmosphere. Chef Folse creates traditionalLouisiana dishes as well as his own flair, utilizing ingredients that he refers to as “the swamp floor pantry.”
Signature items feature unique presentations such as “A Tale of Three Fishes,” which offers diners a combination of three seafood stews, including French bouillabaisse, Spanish zarzuela and Tuscan cacciucco served in three separate courses. Whatever you decide on, you will be satisfied. For the best brunch in town, make sure to find your way to Court of Two Sisters on Royal Street. A jazz trio strolls through the elegant courtyard while diners fill their plates with classic egg dishes and savory local favorites like boiled shrimp or crawfish with remoulade, zesty Cajun pasta, corn grits, and Creole jambalaya. With many awards under its belt, you will likely need to loosen your own belt a notch before you make your departure.
Ten years after the devastation that ripped through New Orleans, the resilient residents of this beautiful city have bonded together to rebuild and attract more visitors than ever. Although Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest are the two most popular events, any week of the year is a perfect time to visit. As the locals say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (“Let the good times roll!”)